[Editor's note: Jenora Crawford was a longtime teacher at Alma Preparatory School and Alma White College/Zarephath Bible Institute, Zarephath, New Jersey. Her husband, Rev. S.Rea Crawford, is a Pillar of Fire trustee and General Manager of WAWZ Christian Radio at Zarephath.]
Jenora was "Short in word, long in meaning." Her last whispered prayer: "Lord be with me in life and death." To Diane, her daughter, she said, "I have to go, but I do not want to."
How reminiscent of her Master! In Matt. 26:39, Jesus prayed, "Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."
Who is this Jenora Dale Bartlett Crawford? The wife of Rev. S. Rea Crawford, she is a unique person, not just by fingerprint and DNA register, but in numerous distinctions. Streams of George Bartlett and Jeanette Kern, mingled and touched by the hand of God, flowed into a life, singular and unique.
See her in the sixth grade having a love for S. Rea Crawford who one day would be her beloved husband. See this intense, private, sensitive, quiet, little girl with dark, keen eyes perceiving so well the world around her. Bright, with the elegance of mathematics -- she noted the extraneous, and expressed the essential. Her words were chosen with precision.
She said, "A lot of what is said could go unsaid." To a student who was repeatedly interruptive, she remarked, "Never miss a chance to keep your mouth shut."
A lover of nature, gardening, making and sharing things beautiful, she knew efficiency and quipped, "Give a weed an inch and it will take a yard."
Jenora was a great complement and component of her husband and his ever-growing realm of responsibility and leadership. She was a fortress and resource for him. Together, they blessed their children and grandchildren with a resource and treasure that continues to nourish and fashion productive and meaningful lives.
Together they customized the plans and built their house, and with the help of her father, beautifully landscaped the yard and grounds. Jenora lived in the house exactly 40 years to the day. . . she would know such detail.
Her brilliance in the classroom, her efficiency in her roles in the church, home, and Pillar of Fire Movement are recognized and appreciated.
Prepared for teaching with a degree from Alma White College ( 195 l ) and a Masters of Arts in Mathematics from Rutgers University (1967), she taught in Pillar of Fire Schools in Cincinnati, Denver, and Trenton, and concluded her career at Zarephath in both elementary and secondary schools.
For three years she has reflected the sustaining Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ by enduring great suffering, limitations, deprivation and pain without complaint. Rea and Jenora would have been married 50 years, come September. Theirs was a relationship with God and each other not unlike that of C.S. Lewis and his wife Joy, who also died with cancer: "Joy knew she was dying, I knew she was dying, and she knew I knew she was dying -- but when we heard the shepherds playing their flutes in the hills, it seemed to make no difference."
In the marriage of Jenora and Rea, Christ and His utter faithfulness was central. Jenora, in her end on earth, came to a glorious peace. Totally at peace. Touched by her loved ones, she was caressed into the "Arms of Jesus --her Lord and Maker."
With children and family gathering around she sensed something final. They reminded her, "You always sat with us when we were sick!" It seemed that God's faithfulness could be recognized at every turn. The Chaplain from hospice recognized that here was a family, a group of people who were at peace in the presence of the Lord.
As I heard of her home-going, I was fed by a passage in II Thess. 3:3: "Yet the Lord is utterly to be depended upon and he will give you stability and protection against the evil one. It is He who makes us feel confident about you, that you are acting and will act in accordance with our commands. May the Lord guide your hearts into deeper understanding of God's love and of the patient suffering of Christ."
The mystery lies in the phrase "utterly to be depended upon." Yet, therein is also the ultimate consolation.
Tolstoy wrote: "Jesus Christ teaches men that there is something in them which lifts them above this life with its hurries, its pleasures and fears. He who understands Christ's teaching feels like a bird that did not know it has wings and now suddenly realizes that it can fly, can be free and no longer needs to fear."
This reminds me of
Victor Hugo's picture when he said:
"Be like the bird
"May the God of peace make you holy through and through. May you be kept sound in spirit, mind and body, blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is utterly faithful and he will finish what he has set out to do" (I Thes. 5:16-18, 23-24, 28).